6 changes during pregnancy that may surprise you

Pregnant couple sitting on the couch together at home.

Morning sickness, weight gain, mood swings, general discomfort — there are plenty of changes you probably know to expect if you're expecting. Pregnancy brings about a range of physical and emotional shifts as you adapt to support your growing baby.

But some changes during pregnancy might come as a surprise. And if you're like many women, it may feel less overwhelming if you know what's coming your way.

Some aspects of pregnancy are exciting (like your growing belly and feeling your baby's first kicks), and others are less fun (like nausea and joint pain). However, these changes are designed to support the health of you and your baby.

Here are 6 unexpected changes you might experience during pregnancy.

1. Your hair might change texture or grow at a different rate.

Whether you have curly, straight, thick or thin hair, you're undoubtedly used to your hair type. But pregnancy can impact both the texture and growth rate of your hair.

Thanks to changes in your hormones, your hair might become smoother, develop curls or grow faster. It might even react differently to hair treatments, like perms or hair dye. After delivery, your hair might change again, as some women experience postpartum hair loss.

2. Your gums might bleed.

Hormone changes are also responsible for another shift, this time in your mouth. Estrogen and progesterone help your baby grow and develop, but they can also increase how much blood flows to your gums. As a result, you become more susceptible to inflammation in your gums, called gingivitis.

Pregnancy gingivitis impacts up to 75% of pregnant people. It might show up as bleeding, redness, swelling, a shiny gum surface or bad breath.

"While gingivitis itself isn't dangerous to your baby, untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a type of gum disease that is linked to preterm delivery and low birth weight," says Stephanie P. Langsam, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Main Line Health.

Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day and staying up to date with dental cleanings are key to preventing and treating gingivitis. For severe symptoms, your dentist might recommend prescription mouthwash or oral antibiotics.

3. You might have to urinate a lot — even in the first trimester.

Frequent trips to the bathroom might be a given later in pregnancy. This is due to the pressure your growing baby puts on your bladder, making it so you're able to hold less urine.

But you may also experience increased urination as early as your first trimester. This is thanks to hormone changes — particularly progesterone — that loosen your pelvic floor muscles, which hold your bladder in place. While this is helpful when it's time to deliver your baby, it can be a nuisance during pregnancy.

Some women continue to face problems with bladder control after pregnancy. If this happens, talk to your health care provider, who can recommend lifestyle changes and, if needed, pelvic floor rehabilitation.

4. You might have a more sensitive sense of smell.

If certain scents — such as a particular food or favorite perfume — are suddenly more intense, that might be one of the first signs that you're pregnant. Unfortunately, paired with nausea, it might send you running in the opposite direction of that smell.

"While many pregnant women report having a heightened sense of smell, there isn't much research explaining why this happens," says Dr. Langsam. "One theory, however, is that it helps protect the mom from ingesting a toxin that could be harmful to the baby."

A byproduct of this pregnancy change can also be food aversions. While most people think of food cravings as a sign of pregnancy (which may also occur), a sudden and strong dislike of a particular food can happen, too. In addition to a heightened sense of smell, food aversion may also be a result of hormonal changes.

5. Your vision might change.

Again thanks to those hormone fluctuations, you might suddenly be seeing a little less clear during pregnancy.

Blurry vision can be caused by hormones that cause you to retain more fluid, which can change the thickness or shape of your cornea, decrease your tear production and increase the pressure in your eyes — all of which can impact your vision.

While blurry vision is not usually anything to worry about, it can be a sign of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Both of these conditions put your baby at risk and require treatment. Be sure to tell your provider if you experience vision changes while pregnant.

6. You might turn your toilet seat blue.

While unlikely and arguably one of the stranger symptoms, some women have reported their toilet seat turning blue while pregnant. This might be a result of a number of factors, including hormones, your prenatal vitamin or even your new maternity jeans.

However, there are no scientific studies that confirm or deny this phenomenon, so the cause of this possible pregnancy side effect remains unknown.

Whatever the cause, it can be embarrassing. What's more, short of changing your vitamins and jeans, there may not be much you can do about it other than wait until you have your baby to replace your toilet seat.

A changing body for a growing baby

Pregnancy is all about change. Your body adapts in ways that are exciting, confusing and occasionally uncomfortable.

"The good news is that most of these changes are short-lived. Once you welcome your baby into the world, many pregnancy side effects subside, sometimes immediately," says Dr. Langsam.

Meanwhile, do your best to enjoy the ride and appreciate how much your body can do for your growing baby. Before you know it, you'll be in for another drastic change — parenting.

Next steps:

Make an appointment with an OB/GYN provider
Download your maternity checklist
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